Latest Results Show Low Voter Turnout for Tuesday’s City Council Election

Roughly 16% of West Hollywood’s 28,302 registered voters turned out for Tuesday’s City Council election, according to the latest update by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.  That turnout of 4,575 voters is two percentage points less than the turnout calculated the day after the March 2017 City Council election.

However, that percentage may increase as vote-by-mail ballots (accepted as late as Friday if they were postmarked no later than election day) are counted. The Registrar’s Office also will be reviewing provisional ballots, which are ballots completed by people at the wrong polling place. If

the review determines that the voter is an authorized West Hollywood voter, such ballots are counted.

While it’s not yet clear how many vote-by-mail ballots will be received by Friday, there were 540 dropped off at polling places on election day that have yet to be counted. There were 324 provisional ballots that must be verified and counted.  The final returns could be swayed somewhat by that total of 864 ballots, each of which could contain votes for as many as three candidates for the three City Council seats, along with yet-to-arrive vote-by-mail ballots.  The Registrar’s Office will provide a vote update on Friday.

Final election results are scheduled to be certified by the Registrar’s Office on March 22, and it is anticipated that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will declare the election concluded on April 2.

The three newly elected Council members are anticipated to be sworn-in at a regular meeting of the West Hollywood City Council on April 1 at the City Counci meeting.

The returns calculated as of Tuesday night showed incumbent Lindsey Horvath in the lead with 2,917 votes (24.38% of votes cast). Horvath was followed closed by incumbent Lauren Meister with 2,708 votes (22.63% of votes cast).

John D’Amico, running for his third term on the Council, won 1,840 votes, or 15.35% of the total. He was followed by challenger Sepi Shyne, with 1,582 votes (13.22% of the total). Each of the seven other challengers scored between 8.02% and 1.14% of the votes calculated as of Tuesday night.

Calculation based on funds raised as of Feb. 21 and votes counted as of March 5.

Based on campaign finance reports filed as of Feb. 21, Councilmember Meister’s campaign was less expensive per vote than those of the other two winners. As of Feb. 21, Meister had raised $44,896. That’s a total of $16.58 per vote, based on the 2,708 votes calculated so far. Councilmember Horvath’s votes were a little more than twice as expensive. With $101,930 in donations by Feb. 21, Horvath’s 2,917 votes cost $34.94 each. Councilmember D’Amico’s $77,200 in donations as of Feb. 21 indicates a cost of $41.96 per vote, well more than twice the cost of Meister’s votes.

Duke Mason, whose campaign was his second unsuccessful bid for a Council seat, topped all of the candidates in cost per vote thus far. As of Feb. 21, Mason reported raising $46,480, or $48.27 per each of his 966 vote. Challenger Marquita Thomas raised $12,000, or, $15.67 for each of her 766 votes. Sepi Shyne, who came in in fourth place, raised $21,650, which came out to $13.69 per each of her 1,582 votes. Challenger Brendan Hood raised $2,800, or $7.98 for each of his 351 votes. Candidates Tom Demille, Shawn Davis Mooney, Eric Jon Schmidt and Jack Cline reported no campaign donations.

  1. It really is pathetic that so few people bother to take part in our local elections. Complaining to your friends about things that are wrong accomplishes nothing, being an educated voter can change everything.

    Unfortunately, so few people pay enough attention for the changes they seek, and then people get discouraged that nothing changes. In a small city like this, its easy for big money to overwhelm citizens needs. The only way that can change is with a more engaged electorate.

    We must do better.

    1. Hear, Hear, Bill Skywatcher. Hence my relief at future WeHo elections being moved/consolidated to coincide with state & federal general elections (even-number years) when there are more races to prompt higher turnouts. Quite frankly, this should also help with less voter-fatigue with what seems like NEVER-ending election campaigns where, before one election (like last fall) is even over, local candidates are hounding us for endorsements, volunteer hours & contributions for the NEXT election. It’s enough to drive us all bananas: NO WONDER turnouts for city elections are so low—making them even more vulnerable to distortion by special interests.

    2. Voting is one of the easiest things anyone can do. People chose to be engaged and vote or not. In many ways we’re better off that the 16% that are engaged are the ones that are voting and picking our policy leaders.

  2. The analysis of $ per vote is completely misleading unless you add in the money spent by the independent expenditure committees.

    1. Absolutely correct, Larry. When adding in these “independent” expenditures (largely from a couple developers pushing “Yes on B” and it’s allies, the overall expenditures from all sources in our shamefully-low voter turnout jumps to HUNDREDS of dollars per-ballot cast. It truly is an embarrassment both to the low level of participation…and of how easily real estate & developer interests continue to have their way in off-year elections in buying our city outnfrom under its residents and long-time small businesses. Shame on us. Personally, I’m glad that I’m the future our city elections have been mandated by state law to shift to be conducted concurrent with general elections.

  3. Why aren’t mailed ballots counted sooner. There’s time to verify addresses and signatures – just as voting at the polling places? Why release the results until all votes are counted?

    1. The mailed ballots received prior to election day are actually counted fairly quickly with results not being announced until the polls closed (those were those very first numbers being shown when it said “0 of 9 precincts reporting”). The mailed ballots received on election day at the polls and in the mail are being verified and counted by election officials now and usually are announced daily, but it sounds like in this case, they will announce all on Friday. (remember, ballots may still be in transit because the ballot has until Friday to reach the Registrar’s office so long as it was postmarked election day or before). If the City Clerk were still handling our election counting, we’d receive updated counts sooner, but we’d still have to wait till end of Friday to have all ballots counted. The reason they release results as they are counted is because the counting process is a public process and once the polling locations close and counting begins, we should all have access to those preliminary results, not just the few on-site monitoring the counting. Seeing the votes as they are tallied also gives the public more time to identify and call out voting irregularities that might raise concern and need to be further addressed. As we have often seen in places across the country, ballot counting usually must be completed and finalized by a certain date. The sooner we can begin dealing with any identified problems, the better. I’m sure there may be other reasons as well for the process of counting we have, but these are two that I feel are most apparent.

    2. A reasonable question. The answer is that there is one central location that processes mail ballots, and each one is checked similar to what happens at a voting station. Since they get results for many elections, and have only a few people doing this, it takes up to two weeks to process all ballots. It’s a kink in the system and one in which budgetary issues and the lack of qualified employees to do this (the signature needs to be looked at more carefully when the voter is not physically present and seen signing the form) add to the time.
      Based on most CA elections, figure the total # of votes to increase substantially. So this isn’t close to the final vote.
      Also the general rule in local elections in higher income, education areas is that the only way you get higher turnout is voter anger. Lower turnout most often comes from voter satisfaction with the status quo. That repeatedly looks to be the case in WeHo.

      1. This is very true. Despite a lot of passion on specific issues, we all know West Hollywood is a great place to live. Furthermore, City Hall does get things right more often than not and our Council members are far more responsive than those in Los Angeles and other larger cities. Obviously many people are quite content to enjoy living here without having to follow local issues; indeed given much of what has been in the news about West Hollywood, the less you know is probably better for your peace of mind.

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